Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and a distinguished senior fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week and continues to write columns in The Boston Globe. He is the author of Obama's Challenge and other books.

Recent Articles

Comment: How Would Gore Govern?

W hat a pleasant surprise that Al Gore, having tried just about everything else, stumbled on the idea of running as a progressive. Maybe this shift was inevitable. Despite the appeal of centrism to elites, voters just do not elect Democrats to kiss up to business or dismantle government. They can get that, full strength, from Republicans. Voters elect Democrats to be champions of ordinary people. The success of Gore's shift is a double vindication for the likes of us. This magazine has long argued that Democrats don't get elected by repairing to the center on pocketbook issues. And we've repeatedly documented that most Americans are not sharing in the current boom. Even if average incomes are slightly up, economic security is down. You wouldn't notice this by talking to the donors and lobbyists who dominate American political life. But it's hard to miss if you talk to actual voters. Seemingly, the Democratic convention...

Comment: Sequels Always Bomb

O f all the revelations in The New York Times investigation of partisan favoritism in the counting of Florida's overseas ballots, none was more galling than the new information on the role played by Gore and Lieberman. At a time when campaign strategists were pressing Florida election officials to disallow military ballots that lacked witness signatures or pre-election day postmarks, Lieberman appeared on Meet the Press and urged that military ballots be given "the benefit of the doubt." Only in the Times account, eight months later, did senior campaign officials pour out their rage, on the record, at Lieberman--and not for a single blunder but for a whole mentality. Gore, if anything, was worse. The Times quoted Joe Sandler, then the general counsel to the Democratic National Committee, recalling Gore's exact words: "If I won this thing by a handful of military ballots, I would be hounded by Republicans and the press every day of my presidency and it wouldn't be worth having." It...

Comment: The Great Obfuscator

P resident Bush's heavily choreographed decision to support "limited" stem cell research generated the desired headlines and TV commentary. He had anguished over the decision, we were told, and navigated a prudent course between zealous scientists who would play God and zealous traditionalists who claim a pipeline to God. Under Bush's guidelines, stem cell research can qualify for federal funding if it involves existing "lines" of privately developed embryonic stem cells. Others could not, but the harvesting of stem cells from human embryos can continue with private funding. Bush had carefully chosen a middle ground between, as he put it, the good and the good. This construct is, of course, nonsense. Bush has essentially let science policy be dictated by fundamentalist Protestant views about when life begins. (The Catholic hierarchy, which consistently opposes trifling with embryos under whatever auspices, lent cover to Bush's middle-ground charade by helpfully opposing his policy.)...

Comment: The Stakes

One of the many depressing things about the 2000 election has been the tactical blurring of principled differences. Al Gore is for patients' rights? So is George W. Bush. Gore has a plan for prescription drug coverage. Bush does, too. Gore would allocate trillions to Social Security. Likewise Bush. Never mind that Gore's plans are closer to the genuine article. Most voters pay attention only to the headlines. The details are numbing. Bush gets away with seeming to be for popular Democratic positions that most of his party opposes. What the headline promises, the details take back. But the headline is sufficient to steal Gore's thunder. Of course, Gore plays the same game. Bush believes in tax cuts. So Gore has tax cuts, too. The Republicans favor smaller government. Gore boasts about how much government has been cut since 1993. Republicans have family, faith, and Jesus. Democrats trump them with Joe Lieberman and the Big Guy. If all this meant there really were...

Comment: The Persistence of Politics

T he first casualty of war is said to be truth, but more precisely the casualty is complexity. In war, there are Evil and Good, Enemies and Allies, a Them and an Us, conveniently spelled U.S. George Bush declared: "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." Excoriating an enemy whose suicide bombers fly in the name of Allah, Bush also clarified that God is, in fact, on our side. As a national spasm of righteous rage, war is a bad time for liberal intellectuals, whose very vocation is complexity. In war, domestic reform gets sidetracked; dissent gets confused with treason. Liberals themselves tend to divide into realists and idealists. The intellectual who agonizes over war's moral complexities risks getting punched out in a bar. In WWII, when Nazism was an unambiguous enemy, liberal intellectuals could reconcile patriotism with love of complex puzzles by joining the OSS. This war, I fear, will be the most frustrating in our history. For all of the popular outrage and...

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